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Tema - Architect and Society
Tema - Social Commitment
1

In recent years, a great deal of content has been generated calling on architects to take on this new role. In this article, Paisaje Transversal reflects on architects’ role outside of construction. In this other article, Zuloark provides us with some practical tools for the developing a shared urban plan with a view to making citizens more independent. https://blogfundacion.arquia.es/2018/04/participacion-ciudadana-ii-como/

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Several different architecture collectives appeared in the early 2010s. Some studios “reassessed traditional city models as well as the concepts of urbanism and public space, and questioned both the pyramid structure of architecture studios and the notion of authorship”. Members of Zuloark discussed this in a 2013 interview: http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/videos/la-aventura-del-saber/aventura-del-saber-zuloark/2172987/

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In her article “The tyranny of structurelessness”, Jo Freeman discussed the impossibility of creating collective dynamics without regulating bodies – as well as the negative consequences of trying to accomplish this. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tyranny_of_Structurelessness

4

In the article “Flexible institutions for a fast-changing world”, Ana Manzanedo and Liliana Arroyo talk about the qualities of network-based work organisations based on the book “Reinventing organizations” by Frederic Laloux

5

Adolfo Chautón discusses the notion of “mutual entrepreneurship” as a type of social entrepreneurship specifically used to foster self-development. Learning is viewed as collective, organic action. http://emprendipia.org/innovacion-social/emprendimiento_mutuo

The tyranny of collaboration

Alinghi building, Civic Factory Fest (Valencia) – 2016 | Photo: Laura Murillo
Members of the CivicWise network meet for lunch at the Civic Factory Fest in the Alinghi building (Valencia).
Collective working is becoming more common, more important, and more unified.

Over the past decade, in the field of architecture, collective or collaborative working structures have become more and more popular. Characterised by prominent political will, architects are reclaiming their social function1 while the need to create structures where groups prevail over individuals is being discussed. This is not exclusively about generating mere business-oriented collaborations or associations. It is about creating a model where people are defined by values as opposed to services, and are empowered to create more open and flexible structures. Professional relations are leaving behind vertical structures and professional subordination, and shifting towards “horizontal” systems.2

This new trend has proved quite disruptive, especially considering how central variables such as authorship and ego are to the current debate in architecture. Though this has helped rethink many of the qualities associated with architects’ role in society, it has also led to some confusion linked to the topological notion of “horizontality”.

The very notion of a ‘horizontal structure’, generally speaking, has been linked to the absence of leadership or inequality, i.e. to a working space where all individuals and relations are equal, regardless of professional experience or careers. Such a horizontal structure is basically a non-structure 3 where the lack of individual representation is considered valid and acknowledgement unnecessary. This equates to giving up individual identities for the sake of collective ones.

Far from resulting in any benefit for the group, this relinquishment, primarily of vertical, alienating working structures, will end up generating dysfunctions generated by a lack of clarity as to which standpoint one can relate to others from.

On the contrary, defining and strengthening individual identities will be even more important in a collective structure. The greatest challenge of a collaborative working group will then lie in managing individual identities within the collective identity. Success will ultimately stem from a clearer definition of group diversity – a structure that is able to build and foster the highest possible number of strong, clear-cut individual identities, cohesively and cogently. Let us stop talking about horizontal working structures, and chose shared network structures instead.

We need to turn back to believing in people, placing them above brands and collective identities. Collective identity can never stand in the way of building and strengthening individual identities. Quite the contrary, in fact.

Is it possible to create tools and dynamics that will allow us to see each other as people who are unselfishly and equitably connected? Is it possible to establish units of workers who can belong to more than one group at a time? By doing that, we would make room for experimentation while, at the same time, yielding results to underscore the value of the group.4 This complex, open, flexible working dynamic would respect, accept and facilitate each individual’s commitments and deadlines. All in all, it would be a system based on mutual undertaking5 that would enable people (as opposed to structures) to further their collective development.

This short post attempted to collate a number of different conversations held amongst colleagues and co-workers with a view to starting a debate on how we operate and perceive ourselves in the discipline of architecture. Raquel Congosto, Luis G.Sanz, Alfonso Sánchez Uzábal, María Tomé and our colleagues fromFasebase, Artemi Hernández and Bentejui Hernández, are but some of the people I spoke to Juan López-Aranguren, Irene Reig and Roberto Ros’ review of the post was also indispensable.

Text translated by Beth Gelb
Notas de página
1

In recent years, a great deal of content has been generated calling on architects to take on this new role. In this article, Paisaje Transversal reflects on architects’ role outside of construction. In this other article, Zuloark provides us with some practical tools for the developing a shared urban plan with a view to making citizens more independent. https://blogfundacion.arquia.es/2018/04/participacion-ciudadana-ii-como/

2

Several different architecture collectives appeared in the early 2010s. Some studios “reassessed traditional city models as well as the concepts of urbanism and public space, and questioned both the pyramid structure of architecture studios and the notion of authorship”. Members of Zuloark discussed this in a 2013 interview: http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/videos/la-aventura-del-saber/aventura-del-saber-zuloark/2172987/

3

In her article “The tyranny of structurelessness”, Jo Freeman discussed the impossibility of creating collective dynamics without regulating bodies – as well as the negative consequences of trying to accomplish this. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tyranny_of_Structurelessness

4

In the article “Flexible institutions for a fast-changing world”, Ana Manzanedo and Liliana Arroyo talk about the qualities of network-based work organisations based on the book “Reinventing organizations” by Frederic Laloux

5

Adolfo Chautón discusses the notion of “mutual entrepreneurship” as a type of social entrepreneurship specifically used to foster self-development. Learning is viewed as collective, organic action. http://emprendipia.org/innovacion-social/emprendimiento_mutuo

Autor:
(Águilas, 1987) Socio cooperativista y cofundador de la Oficina de Innovación Cívica S. Coop. Miembro de la red internacional CivicWise.

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